by: Robert Blokker [ ]
Around 1942 the German army found itself in a bit of a problem when they found out the firepower of the earlier Stug could no longer match up with the armor and firepower the enemy brought to the battlefields so a new solution had to be thought up. The design was brought over to the Panzer III Ausf. F chassis got changed and/or simplified and the main gun received an upgrade to the armament of the standard Ausf. F as well giving it the well proven long L/48 gun. The new version went to war from the fall of 1942 as the Stug. III Ausf F/8. In total 250 were built of the early and late version before production switched over to the even more successful Stug. III G.
Kit# 6620 Stug III F/8 smart kit comes in the well-known slide top box that Dragon Models uses for pretty much all of their armor offerings. The box measures 38 cm wide, 24,5 deep and approximately 8 cm high, and is graced with a really nice box art done by Ronald Volstad. One side shows the 4 paint and decal options given in the kit and the other side and back of the box show CGI renderings of the highlights in the kit.
Opening the box you will find out it is filled to the brim with the light grey styrene we all know of Dragon Models. In total you will find 14 sprues in light grey styrene, 2 in clear styrene with all the periscopes, 1 piece of metal tow cable, 2 frets of PE and Dragon Models switched over to the one piece DS tracks for this kit, instead of their Magic tracks. The total number of parts for all sprues is 646 but as is custom with Dragon Models the sprues are a collection of sprues that can be used for several kits of the Panzer III chassis so a lot of parts are actually not used. You actually use 466 parts. So the scrap box will also be happy with this kit, and for a change the majority of the parts is not made up by the tracks. Due to the DS tracks.
What do you get?
This Stug shares a lot of similarities with the Stug III G series that was released earlier. So you get the tub with the torsion bars to provide a bit of a working suspension system. The details on the tub itself are really nice and sharp and seem to match up the drawings that I have available to me. Just as with the III G you get a full fighting compartment with the internals of the L/48 Gun. The whole compartment is very well detailed and comes with the inclusion of the crews personal weapons (2 MP40ís) and all the other included details like a full new radio set matching that for the F/8 series. And all the hatches in the superstructures roof can be opened to show off all that nice detail. The kit comes with the correct back deck and again all the hatches are delivered separate and can be positioned open... Although you will need the aid of an After Market engine to make that area interesting. The detail on the fenders is perfect. And with this being the smart kit you get the tools with the molded on tool clamps.
The photo etch is there to catch up where the styrene just doesnít cut it. You get the 2 metal rings for each of the idler wheels. The instructions show here a full ring but you can search all your life for them on the PE fret you will not find them. Closer examination of the instructions will reveal that each ring is actually made up of 3 PE parts. So be careful with the alignment otherwise it will look odd. You get some really nice engine grills for the 2 vents on the sides of the back deck as well as the big screen at the back of the tank above the exhausts; again really nice and sharp details that will add a lot to the vehicle. One PE part that deserves a special mention is the periscope guard on the roof of the F/8. There is a plastic version of it delivered in the kit but the bars in that guard are way too thick. So PE is really the only way to go. The side of the box smartly tells you that the guard is pre formed for easy assembly which is nice.... Well not really as you will discover when you go through the box that the Periscope guard is not pre-formed at all. You have to form it yourself. Dragon Models does not leave you completely into the woods without a map though. On Sprue R you will find a special made jig that allows you to form the periscope guard and that should make your life a whole lot easier. The kit comes with a nice MG shield for the vehicles roof, however oddly the instructions donít show any machine gun being added to it. Luckily Dragon Models did not forget to provide you with one and the MG 34 is located on sprue F
As with everything you will have people who like it and people who loathe it. I think most people would prefer a kit with Magic Tracks for this type of tank. But Dragon Models decided otherwise. I personally have not worked with DS tracks before but I love the Magic Tracks so time will tell in which camp I will end up. Still you can satisfy some people all of the time and you can satisfy most some of the time, but you cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time unless that is Dragon Models would have given you the option for both style tracks. But since that did not happen the people who donít like the one piece DS tracks will probably have to invest in some Aftermarket tracks to give the Stug III F/8 some shoes.
Well I did study them for a considerable time and could not really find any mistakes or misprints or parts in the wrong locations but that said. Keep in mind that these are instructions made by Dragon Models and therefor are quite notorious for mistakes and slip ups. So take care when you build this kit and test fit every part before applying glue.
Paint and decals
The kit provides you with 4 options to finish your Stug III F/8 in And they are the following:
Pz. Div. Hermann Goring, Sicilly 1943, three tone camo
StuG. Brig. 243, Stalingrad 1942, Three tone camo
StuG. Brig. 203, Stalingrad 1942, White wash over Panzer gelb
StuG.Brig.904, Kursk 1943, 2 tone camo green mottling over Panzergelb
I think Dragon Models has made a good kit here. You get a box full of plastic guaranteed for hours of modelling pleasure. Sure the DS tracks might not be everybodyís cup of tea but the detailed fighting compartment and the fact that you can show it as well makes up for a lot. I like the fact that Dragon Models decided to give a jig to form the periscope guard since it will save a lot of frustration. It might not be the most original release but still for the panzer III and derivatives aficionadoís this will find fertile ground. In the end you will get quite an attractive model.